My Brother is an Only Child
- Paul Dale
- 27 March 2008
It is sometimes worth remembering that there was a time of passion and politics in Europe before mass consumerism and cultural deception helped nullify and stupefy the general populace. This nostalgic idea runs through Antonio Pennacchi’s epic book, which has now been turned into a winning and entertaining film by prolific Italian director Daniele Luchetti (though this is the first of his dozen or so films to be distributed in the UK).
In a small Italian town in the late 60s/early 1970s two young brothers, Accio (Elio Germano) and Manrico (Riccardo Scamarcio), are being radicalised in very different ways. Manrico finds his rhetoric with the unions at his factory and their support for the local communist party while Accio, an uptight oddball and scholar of Latin, enjoys punching heads with the local fascists. As they both become more entrenched in their movements their paths begin to cross in violent and often surprising ways.
Adapted by Sandro Petraglia and Stefano Rulli, the folk responsible for the thematically similar 2003 mini series The Best of Youth, My Brother is an Only Child is a diverting attempt to recreate a time when university sit-ins and brutal ideological clashes were commonplace. Luchetti, a gifted but occasionally ham-fisted filmmaker hails from the same creative stable as mainstream Gabriele Muccino (The Pursuit of Happyness, One Last Kiss), so the sex, sentiment and familiar generics of your average coming of age story are really the order of the day here. Despite that, My Brother is an Only Child does have a charm and easy vitality all its own and it is never boring, while the soundtrack (made up of great Italian pop songs of the period) and the excellent performances from the two heart-throb leads sustain things very nicely.
Selected release from Fri 4 Apr.